Dan Brown may have brought this chapel into popular culture in his publication The Da Vinci Code, but this chapel was famous in its right a long time before that. Rosslyn Chapel has been loved for both its amazing decorative artwork and also the mystery that surrounds it with people for many years.
Located 45 minutes beyond Edinburgh, Rosslyn Chapel, properly named the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew, was founded on a little hill near Rosslyn Castle in the mid-15th century. The chapel was founded by William Sinclair of the Sinclair family, a noble family descended from Norman knights who moved to Scotland if they fell out with William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
The objective of the church was to celebrate the Holy Mass for all your faithfully departed, like the deceased members of the Sinclair family. It had been thought a fast ticket into heaven was to have people constantly praying for your soul. The Sinclairs did what many wealthy families did: they built the church hoping of winning points with the guy upstairs. Following the Scottish Reformation, Roman Catholic worship in the Chapel was taken to a finish, although the Sinclair family stayed Roman Catholics before early 18th century.
The chapel itself is in fact quite small. Standing 12 meters tall and 21 meters long, it had been originally built to be considered a full style Gothic cathedral in the form of a cross. However, when William Sinclair died his son made a decision to stop construction. He closed up the “top” and just made the prevailing building right into a much smaller chapel.
Rossyln Chapel Mysteries
Though small, the chapel is filled up with stunning architecture and sculptures that you normally wouldn’t think would belong. In this Catholic church, you’ll find Pagan fertility gods, supposed Masonic imagery, upside-down devils, biblical reliefs, references to Norse mythology, and the death mask of Robert the Bruce – all pretty unusual stuff for a Gothic church. There are literally a huge selection of individual figures and scenes, like the Green Man, historically a pagan figure. The vines sprouting from his mouth represent nature’s growth and fertility.
You can spend hours overlooking all of the reliefs, statues, and images. They are fascinating. The most fascinating one may be the American maize (corn), that was not discovered at that time this church was built. Over among the windows, there is actually maize, leading many visitors to theorize the Sinclairs had connection with America years before Columbus did. (Though that isn’t exactly revolutionary as it’s well documented that Columbus had not been the first European to find America.)
Yet what intrigues people concerning this place may be the mystery that surrounds it and the mysterious connections of the family. As a result of family’s link with the Knights Templar (and the stone that says “Knight Templar” in the church), it is definitely theorized that a lot of the imagery in the church has some secret meaning and that the mysterious treasure of the Templars is really buried underneath in the church’s vaults.
Yet no-one knows for certain. The Sinclairs did support the Templars, and there is obvious Templar and Masonic imagery in the church, while some of it might have already been added later. What keeps the mystery alive is that the family has kept silent over the centuries in what is in the vault, leading many to theorize they are hiding something.
Following the “Da Vinci Code” movie, a large number of people came here each day seeking to find some truth in the story, and a large number of people walked away disappointed. But whether you genuinely believe in the Da Vinci and Templar theories or not, this church continues to be an interesting spot to visit. The intricacy of the architecture will leave you captivated and breathless. So when you are finished with the church, you can walk around the encompassing hills and go to the ruins of the old castle, which can be an equally good treat.
Additionally, the secrecy of the family increases the mystery. Excavations in the 1800s uncovered foundations stretching an additional 30 meters beyond the west end of the Chapel. Gleam hidden chamber below the chapel that the family won’t allow to be visited.
A visit to Rosslyn Chapel produces a good excursion from Edinburgh. Regardless of your interests, it’s a vacation which should not be missed by anyone. In the event that you don’t have an automobile, you can take an area bus from the town and it’ll drop you off right before the entrance to both church and castle ruins. Honestly, though it really is small, it’s utterly amazing and I spent hours wandering the reliefs and asking questions. The encompassing grounds are also beautiful for a stroll. If you’re a fan of unusual places, be sure to add Rosslyn Chapel to your bucket list!
How exactly to Visit Rosslyn Chapel
Located near Edinburgh, Rosslyn chapel is open each day of the entire year from 9:30am-5:30pm (6pm in the summertime) except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s. Just remember that the last entry every day is thirty minutes before closing. Admission to the chapel is 9 GBP for adults while children enter free.
There are 6 guided tours during the day (but only 3 on Sundays) if you have plenty of questions, a tour is probable the easiest method to have them answered. Check the web site for the most up-to-date tour schedule. In the event that you don’t have an automobile, you may take bus 37 or 40 from Edinburgh to access the chapel. Based on traffic, it requires between 45 to 60 minutes each way.
Chapel Loan, Roslin, +44 131 440 2159, rosslynchapel.com.
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